News / Arts & Entertainment

Historic US Route 66 Still Sparks Wanderlust

Historic US Route 66 Still Sparks Wanderlusti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
August 06, 2014 10:47 PM
Route 66, the legendary highway from Chicago to Los Angeles, offered a road to a better life for many Americans, and became a symbol of wanderlust in 20th century. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, the highway, called the main street of America, is the focus of an exhibit in Los Angeles.
Mike O'Sullivan

Route 66, the legendary highway from Chicago to Los Angeles, offered a road to a better life for many Americans, and became a symbol of wanderlust in 20th century. The highway, called the main street of America, is the focus of an exhibit in Los Angeles.  

Route 66 covered nearly 4,000 kilometers of the American heartland and West, and generations came westward on this route long before it became a paved highway.  

The writer John Steinbeck called it the "Mother Road," and it became a symbol of freedom for 1950s Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road.

Great migration

His manuscript, typed on a 35-meter scroll, is on display at the Autry National Center of the American West, which has put on the Route 66 exhibit.

Also there is Woody Guthrie's guitar. The folk singer was one of many who celebrated the highway, which offered an escape from drought-stricken Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.

“That 66 highway is mighty hard. All day you're hot, all night you freeze. But we've got to have work so we're taking a chance from old Oklahoma to Los Angeles,” sang Guthrie.

Jazz musician Bobby Troup was another who celebrated the highway, with this 1946 hit. “It winds from Chicago to L.A. More than 2,000 miles all the way. Get your kicks on Route 66.”

Cross-country expansion

Curator Jeffrey Richardson said much of the country's growth in the west during the 1940s and '50s happened along the highway.

“In the explosion in American society that took place in the post-world War II period, an explosion of economics, of people, Route 66 really became both a major thoroughfare to move people across the country, but it was also a popular tourist destination,” he said.

The road captured the country's imagination in the 1960s television series Route 66.

But by then, the highway's importance began to fade. President Dwight D. Eisenhower spearheaded the construction of a national interstate highway system in the 1950s and as the system grew, it bypassed more and more sections of Route 66.   In 1985, the route was officially decommissioned, but much of the old road still exists.

For most who travel the route west, the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California, is the end of the journey.

Dan Rice sells Route 66 souvenirs on the Santa Monica Pier, and has traveled on the road many times.

“I've done it 29 times now. That's from beginning to end, Chicago to Los Angeles. If we were counting just the times that I did it through the Southwest, I can't even count. I've done it a lot,” he said.

Romantic travelogue

Rice said Route 66 still draws tourists who want to drive the route and others who want to enjoy its romance.

“To get out in the middle of Kansas and Oklahoma and the Panhandle of Texas and New Mexico, and just see the land rolling on and on and on, and nothing but you and the sky and the wind in your hair, it's pretty great,” said Rice.

Autry Center curator Jeffrey Richardson said Route 66 is an American symbol around the world.

“And since we've put this exhibition on, I've had friends and colleagues who have traveled across the world, who have sent me pictures of Route 66 shields and other things in cafes in Paris,” he said.

Dan Rice has met tourists from Norway, Saudi Arabia and Australia who have come to make the journey. And for people in Los Angeles, the westward end of the highway, the freedom and adventure of Route 66 still beckons.

 

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.

Blogs

African Music Treasures